Monday, March 30, 2015

Review of Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Title/Author: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay
Publisher/Date published: Katherine Tegen Books, March 17th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

I'm a big what-iffer. I always wonder what would have happened if I'd decided to go in another direction, what if I hadn't gone to college in the city I did, what if I hadn't chosen to become a GP and on and on. And I can obviously understand wondering what if, if you've had a pretty bad accident as a kid that leaves you with scar tissue on half your face.

The thing is, Fiona doesn't really wonder what if. She takes things as they're given to her and I respect that, but I can't really understand this not wondering about it. But maybe that's just me. I do think that Fiona is a strong person, and an optimist. She struggles with her mom's trying to 'fix' her, which kinda annoyed me as well, cause hello, that doesn't seem like supportive parenting at all, she does sorta redeem herself in the end though. I didn't really feel like her dad had much of a voice, which felt a bit off. I did really like Fiona's friendship with Lucy, those girls are true friends and I loved how Lucy wasn't afraid to call Fiona out on her crap.

Fi, the girl who didn't have an accident when she was 5 years old, the what if girl, has a lot going for her. She has an awesome brother and best friend Trent, even though she doesn't really seem to have other friends aside from these two. Then she breaks her ankle while playing lacrosse and her world pretty much falls apart. But she meets a boy and has a second tragedy and OMG, I sorta saw it coming, but not all and it was SAD. And then she really falls apart and is left to pick up the pieces in the after. I really don't blame her for not getting it together for a long time, because wow, when something like that happens, you just can't. But I can't help but compare her to Fiona, and believe that Fiona is the stronger personality in the end.

So both have romances and they're sweet, but I think I liked Fiona's better. Also, it is kinda depressing that it seems that even if you avoid one awful thing happening to you, you can't escape it all and get dealt maybe even a worse hand, cause Fi didn't have it easy in the end either.
I do want to give a big shout out to the awesome sibling relationship in Everything That Makes You! I truly felt the love between Fiona/Fi and her brother and this is a big brownie point thing for me. And I was secretly a bit gleeful at how both their lives sort of intertwine as you're destined to meet some people it seems.

Everything That Makes You satisfies my what-if-tendencies, and the notion that sometimes the grass really isn't greener on the other side.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Get On My Shelf! (4) The March 2015 Edition

This is what is supposed to be a monthly feature of the things that I order/pre-order every month when a paycheck comes in and starts burning a hole in my pocket, demanding to have a part of it spent on books. And grudgingly, I oblige.
This month I extra-obliged because I also had some extra moneys coming in from working all these weird hours :)

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan: We have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.

Vaelin Al Sorna's life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime - where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order's masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.

Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order's deadliest weapon and the Realm's only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne Vol 1 by Arina Tanemura: By day, Kusakabe Maron is an ordinary high school girl with more then her share of problems. But by night, she is Phantom Thief Jeanne. As the reincarnation of Joan of Arc, her mission is to steal demon-possessed paintings and neutralize their evil. Jeanne's only ally is the angel-in-training Finn. Together, they must fight evil by night while surviving high school by day.

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson: Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways... until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else — an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

The Swift Boys & Me by Kody Keplinger: Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.

Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell: Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?

Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan: In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, discovers a sentient book in an ancient tomb. Vella was once a young sorcerer-maker, until she was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been gathering information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.

Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests since a terrible war depleted all but a little magic, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows from her ability to sense the stain it leaves behind that she has a talent for it, and that there are people willing to teach her how to use it, should she ever need to risks the Angels’ wrath.

Further away, a people called the Travelers live their entire lives on the move, trading goods from one world to another. They know that each world has its own store of magic, reducing or increasing a sorcerer’s abilities, so that if one entered a weak world they may be unable to leave it again. Each family maintains a safe trading route passed down through countless generations and modified whenever local strife makes visiting dangerous. But this is not the only knowledge the Travelers store within their stories and songs, collected over millennia spent roaming the universe. They know a great change is due, and that change brings both loss and opportunity.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out — without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent: Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.

Death Note Vol 1 by Tsugumi Ohba: Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami, a death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Review of King by Ellen Oh

Title/Author: King (The Dragon King Chronicles #3) by Ellen Oh
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, March 31st 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Girl warrior, demon slayer, Tiger spirit of the Yellow Eyes — Kira is ready for her final quest. In this thrilling finale to the Prophecy trilogy, fans will get even more of the fierce Kira and her quest to save her kingdom!

All eyes are on her. Kira, once an outcast in her home village of Hansong, is now the only one with the power to save her kingdom. She must save her cousin, the boy fated to be the future king, uncover the third lost treasure, and face innumerable enemies in order to fulfill the famed prophecy.

Kira braves a sea of tigers and battles armies of demons as she musters her inner strength and learns to trust herself, the romantic feelings for Jaewon that are growing within her, and the destiny that must be hers.


So this series and I have a difficult relationship. On one hand, I'm fascinated by this non-European fantasy spin, on the other hand, I'm disappointed by the actual execution of said fantasy spin. Let me explain.

The first book was ok, I was a bit annoyed with Kira at times and then the second book left me going *meh*, but I really needed closure, so I picked up King, even though from the title you can pretty much tell everything is going to end well for Kira and her cousin who is the next in line for the throne.
Like I mentioned in my review of Warrior, the second book in the series, thing come pretty easily to Kira. She does things that seem impossible and then she sleeps for a bit, gets a visit from her Tiger Spirit, and is whole again. This pretty much didn't work for me. It was essentially too easy for her to do all of these things and suddenly everyone likes her, when she was universally hated before this crusade started and I really don't want to say this, but there was this voice in my head shouting MARY SUE a LOT while I was reading King. And I hate that. But I mean, little kids and animals and just about everyone she meets keeps wanting to be with her and it was kinda annoying. And she survives something that should be unsurvivable. I mean. Seriously.

As for the love triangle, I wasn't really sure who I was rooting for while reading the second book, because neither love interest held much attraction for me, but in the third book I had a slight preference for one of them and let's just say that what I luke-warmly shipped sank. And OMG the way this love triangle was dealt with felt WAY too convenient. I mean, seriously?? It took away the need for Kira to actually choose between the two and I was outraged at the not 'chosen' boys behalf, he did not deserve to be passed off like that.
Also, while I wasn't really into either love interests, I never felt like Kira was. She sorta has butterflies for the hotness of one of them and she thinks of the other more as a friend/brother in my opinion. So yeah, the romance pretty much fell flat for me. I get that she's a little busy trying to save all seven kingdoms from being turned into demons or being enslaved, but honestly, the way she handled these boys was annoying to me.

Like with Warrior, I though King lacked a sense of urgency. I never once doubted that Kira could pull saving the world off. She has this moment of self-doubt that was more annoying than anything else. I didn't feel like there was a lot at stake, even if it's the enslavement of all the people and the lives of Kira and her friends that actually are at stake. It wasn't exciting and the demise of the bad guys comes a little too easily. Again, I think I mentioned this in my review of Warrior, but I like my protaganists to suffer a bit before getting it right, and I like the villains to be strong and have a real reason for being evil and taking over the world and destroying lives. But mostly, if it's this easy to defeat the villain, why is it only Kira who can do it? It seems like any toddler just passing by could have done it just as easily. Ok, maybe that's a little too harsh. But still.

I did like meeting the Dragon King, that was pretty cool. And I like the premise of this story, just not the way it was executed in the end. I felt like Kira regressed over the course of this series instead of growing as a person and she just got a bit too Mary Sue-ish for me.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review of The Elusive Lord Everhart by Vivienne Lorret

Title/Author: The Elusive Lord Everhart (Rakes of Fallow Hall #1) by Vivienne Lorret
Publisher/Date published: Avon Impulse, March 24th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Gabriel Ludlow, Viscount Everhart, will never marry, and thus is sure to win the bachelors' wager amongst his friends. Assuming, of course, that his deepest secret — a certain letter containing a marriage proposal made in a moment of passion — doesn't surface. After all, without Calliope Croft to tempt him, there's no danger of losing. Or of falling in love.

Calliope wants revenge. Five years ago, an anonymous love letter stole her heart and ultimately broke it. Now Casanova has struck again, and Calliope vows to unmask the scoundrel, stopping him from breaking any more hearts. Yet, time and again, Gabriel distracts her from her task, until she can no longer deny that something about him calls to her...

Gabriel was a fool to ignore the depth of his feelings for Calliope, but the threat that kept him from her five years ago remains. Now he must choose between two paths: break her heart all over again or finally succumb to loving her... at the risk of losing everything.

Guys, I was truly ready for a cute, swoony romance and that's precisely what I got from The Elusive Lord Everhart!

The Elusive Lord Everhart was just complicated enough that it was interesting to read, but not so complicated that it took away from the overall romance and the feelings and I actually loved that the hero knew his heart before the heroine did. You do have to take some things that go down with a bit of a romance-believer's heart, because there are some pretty big coincidences. But I didn't care, because it was beautifully executed and awesome.

I really liked both Calliope and Gabriel, these are two intelligent, passionate people and they fit perfectly together. And I totally loved how Calliope was reading Gabriel all wrong and had actually been doing that for LONG time and he's genuinely confused by how she thinks he doesn't like her and awww, it was just adorable! There are sparks and illicit meetings and KISSING! The kissing was awesome! I loved when they finally got to the kissing, because the build-up was so good!

So there's some drama that's both in the past and still very present in the future and OMG I just wanted to shake Gabriel and tell him to tell Calliope because I think EVERYONE could see coming that it would not end very well if he didn't. Also, I was having this sense of something still being off because of his injury and it not being revealed how exactly he got this injury and I can definitely imagine Calliope jumping to the conclusion she did when she finds out, because yeah, I would too probably.

But the important thing here is that with all their flaws and their less than great decision making at times, I was still really rooting for Calliope and Gabriel as a couple. They had this beautiful tension and I was just there in the moment with them and yeah, this made for a very happy afternoon of reading!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review of Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Title/Author: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, March 24th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up — terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

I totally loved The Art of Lainey and was really excited to learn that Paula Stokes had a new release coming up, and while I didn't enjoy Liars, Inc. as much as The Art of Lainey, it did have that same gripping writing style.

So Liars, Inc. is a mystery/thriller, which isn't a genre that I usually read, but that I do try every once in a while and it's by Paula Stokes, so I knew it should be good. And it really was. I struggled a bit at first, getting used to Max's voice and ignoring the confusion I always feel at this name, cause it's also my brother's name, but after that we were off to a good start. I did really like Max, he's a good guy at heart and gets in a lot of trouble, but sorta does it with the best intentions? Also, it's totally interesting to see his relationship with both Preston and Parvati, sometimes I got a bit of a Cruel Intentions feeling and it was all so convoluted and messed up and I totally loved when I finally started getting some answers!

I'm not spoiling anything by mentioning that Preston disappears, because the summary tells you this, but even knowing this, the events leading up to the moment when he actually disappears had me feeling this sense of impending doom. Paula Stokes really did a great job of getting the amosphere just right and it made me want to reach through the pages to shake Max and tell him to just TELL SOMEONE THE TRUTH OR SOMETHING. SAVE YOURSELF! So yeah, obviously I became invested.

Towards the end I started suspecting what had happened and I was partly right, but I hadn't realized the full extense of the craziness and the intrigue and just the whole of everything that was messed up. It was pretty fascinating. Do you know that hollow feeling that you get when you finish a book and you have all these questions left? Liars, Inc. isn't like that. I felt like Paula Stokes told me everything that I desperately wanted to know and then wrapped it all up rather nicely.

I was however a bit bugged about something at the end of the book, which is non-spoilery and doesn't really have to do with the story, but Max describes love as looking like 'a dog after getting hit by a car', WTF? I really hate this description because WTF?? I mean, vulnerable ok, but a dog after getting hit by a car??? REALLY?? Worst. Description. Ever. (and also now I feel sad because I keep thinking about dogs and other pets getting hit by cars)

Rant over.

But aside from that last bit that left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth upon finishing this novel, I did really enjoy reading Liars, Inc. Paula Stokes really has a way of creating characters and a storyline that suck you in and make you care for them and OMG what a mindblowing conspiracy and craziness is happening in Liars, Inc.!

My rating: 3,5 stars

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review of 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

Title/Author: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
Publisher/Date published: Harper Teen, June 17th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

Goodreads summary: No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

This book and I did not get along. The blurb tricked me into thinking it would be a cute, fun contemporary and instead I got frenemies, an abusive relationship, lots of slut-shaming and basically not even one character to root for.

It REALLY bothered me that Meghan and Claire are called 'best friends'. Seriously, with a friend like that, you really don't need enemies. The rest of their band is just as bad. And OMG, how do you let a boy you know for all of 5 minutes get in the way of this so-called friendship? Ok, you both have the hots for him and that's a tough situation, but I just cannot even with this. It was so dysfunctional! And Meghan already stole one of Claire's boyfriends a couple of years ago, but to be fair, he was Meghan's boyfriend first. WHAT?? I was just staring at this trainwreck of a friendship and being thankful for my own friends.

And I really didn't like Claire. She's constantly slut-shaming other girls, looking down on everyone and it was just not pretty. Also, I didn't like how she went behind Meghan's back with Luke. And also, Luke was no prize either. He was constantly talking shit about Meghan, even though she was his girlfriend and it just really bugged me! And it bugged me that Claire wouldn't stand up for her best friend while he was doing this.
Also, I cannot even begin to tell you how annoying it was to read about this revenge-kissing that Claire did after a bad break up, she went and kissed the guy's 4 bandmates, basically leading one of them on who seemed like a really good guy and didn't seem to really feel bad about this. I don't know who would do such a thing. Not someone I would want to have around.

I'm not entirely sure why I finished this book, I guess I was hoping for it to be fun in the end or something? To have the characters redeem themselves? Neither of these things happened.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What's on my playlist (1)

One of my other passions, beside reading, is music. I LOVE listening to it, singing along (badly) and shaking my bootie to it. Here's some of what I haven't been able to get out of my head lately:

This song is awesome! And also, I totally got the boyfriend (who doesn't really dance) to dance with me on this one a couple of weeks ago, so good memories :)

I love Taylor Swift, she's awesome.

This song haunts me! I mean, I would have preferred if it wasn't part of the soundtrack of a movie I have no interest in watching, but this song! I just can't help it. Also, I wish Jamie Dorman would star in something I wanted to watch, because I have the hugest celebrity-crush on him every since he was the huntsman in Once Upon a Time and OMG WHY DID THEY KILL HIM OFF?? Sad...

So what have you been listening to?